- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

HAWAII

Cousteau finds isles littered

HONOLULU — Explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau headed to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands imagining unspoiled terrain, pristine masses of land in the middle of nowhere.

Instead Mr. Cousteau, the 65-year-old son of legendary French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, found hundreds of tons of trash, thousands of dead seabirds, the ocean used as a garbage can.

Mr. Cousteau left Honolulu on July 6 to film a TV documentary about the islands.

“It was heartbreaking,” Mr. Cousteau said, speaking by satellite phone last week from his 96-foot Searcher as it headed toward Laysan Island, about 935 miles northwest of Honolulu.

MASSACHUSETTS

Publisher dies after brief illness

BOSTON — John Lewis Selover, the publisher of the Christian Science Monitor and a Christian Science leader who helped shepherd the church’s expansion, has died. He was 72.

Mr. Selover, of Boston, died Friday “among family after a brief illness at home,” said Peter Osterlund, spokesman for the Christian Science Board of Directors.

Mr. Osterlund said the family declined to specify the nature of the illness. A memorial service was being planned for the end of August.

ALASKA

Gasoline thieves start fire

GAMBELL — Two young women narrowly escaped serious injury one night recently when they used a cigarette lighter to check the fuel level in a four-wheeler’s tank while stealing gasoline at a fuel depot, Alaska state troopers said.

The fuel being pumped into the all-terrain vehicle caught fire, and so did the women’s clothing and some nearby material used to clean fuel spills, troopers said. The women beat out the flames on each other’s jackets and then ran in panic, Sgt. Burke Barrick told the Anchorage Daily News.

Local police were able to quickly douse the flames.

ARIZONA

Horses slashed at dude ranch

TUCSON — Authorities suspect animal cruelty after discovering neck gashes on 13 horses at the same dude ranch during the past five weeks.

The most recent injured horse at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch was discovered Friday with a 3-inch-long gash to its neck. It is expected to recover.

The other horses have rebounded from their injuries, but the cuts were close to the horses’ jugular veins and could have been fatal, said Pima County Sheriff’s Detective John Mawhinney, a member of the Animal Cruelty Task Force of Southern Arizona.

The injuries have occurred randomly at night since the first week in July, Detective Mawhinney said. Investigators have no suspects.

CONNECTICUT

‘Blond Bandit’ pleads guilty to bank robberies

NEW HAVEN — A bank robber who earned the nickname “The Blond Bandit” for wearing a long blond wig to hide her identity pleaded guilty in federal court last week to robbing six banks in Connecticut and New York in May.

Pamela Kaichen, 43, could get much as 7 years in prison when she is sentenced Oct. 16. She appeared in court with her natural long, black hair.

FLORIDA

Residents cry foul over dirty water

CAPE CORAL — Some residents here are crying foul after learning that utility workers mistakenly hooked up four homes to the city’s treated wastewater instead of its purified drinking water.

One family used the substandard water for more than three months. Two other homes were hooked up about a month ago, and a fourth was vacant, officials said.

The wastewater comes from residential sinks and toilets. It is filtered and treated with chlorine, but that doesn’t eliminate parasites that can cause vomiting and diarrhea, said Lee County Public Health Director Dr. Judith Hartner.

Since detecting the problem, the city has flushed and chlorinated the lines, and agreed to pay for any medical bills or other costs associated with the problem.

GEORGIA

Fire breaks out in warehouse

ATLANTA — A fire broke out in an antiques warehouse last week near downtown Atlanta, causing smoke to rise 200 feet.

Atlanta fire officials say they believe the blaze was caused by a painter’s cigarette in the Buckhead Finishing Studio, a warehouse behind a strip mall filled with antiques shops. Chemicals in the building may have ignited.

There were no injuries, a fire department official said, but several adjoining stores were damaged.

ILLINOIS

Pediatricians told to combat obesity

CHICAGO — Pediatricians have a responsibility to identify and combat the growing incidence of childhood obesity, with nearly 1 in 7 U.S. children afflicted, a doctors’ group said.

“At a minimum … pediatricians need to proactively discuss and promote healthy eating behaviors for children at an early age,” a policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics said.

The statement — published today in the group’s journal, Pediatrics — recommended that doctors plot their young patients’ body mass index yearly to watch for excessive weight gain, then consult with parents. It said U.S. childhood obesity rates have doubled in the past 20 years.

IOWA

‘Baby Jessica’ marks anniversary

BLAIRSTOWN — It has been a decade since the emotional custody fight between the biological parents of a girl dubbed “Baby Jessica” and a couple who wanted to adopt her.

Saturday marked the 10th anniversary of the day Anna Schmidt, now 12, returned to her biological parents, Dan and Cara Schmidt.

Anna doesn’t remember anything of the tumultuous first two years of her life, when she was called Jessica by Jan and Roberta DeBoer of Ann Arbor, Mich., who were trying to finalize her adoption.

Anna was born in February 1991 in Cedar Rapids and was put up for adoption by her mother, who quickly regretted the decision. She was not married to the girl’s father, Dan Schmidt, at the time. She and Mr. Schmidt fought to get the baby back. The Iowa and Michigan supreme courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the Schmidts’ right to regain their child.

KENTUCKY

School dropout rate hits 10-year low in state

FRANKFORT — Figures released by the state’s Education Department shows that the Kentucky school dropout rate has fallen for the third straight year. For the 2001-2002 school year, it hit a 10-year low. Figures show that among the state’s 235 public high schools, 3.97 percent of students, about 6,000, dropped out during the 2001-2002 school year.

LOUISIANA

Car crash reveals racist church

NEW ORLEANS — A car crash last week in a town near New Orleans revealed that a building thought to be a home-improvement business actually was a white-supremacist church, police said Friday.

The driver smashed the vehicle into the brick storefront in Chalmette, La., after colliding with two other cars, and it came to rest amid stacks of racist books and pamphlets, including Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” they said.

A sign proclaimed the building the “Southern Home Improvement Center,” said Lt. Mike Sanders of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Department, but investigators found out that it was the New Christian Crusade Church and headquarters of the Christian Defense League.

Both organizations were the projects of building owner James Warner, a founder of the American Nazi Party, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

MISSISSIPPI

Court grants leave for indicted justice

JACKSON — The Mississippi Supreme Court has voted to grant indicted high court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. a leave of absence with pay.

Mr. Diaz, charged with fraud and bribery, did not participate in the 7-1 vote Friday. He voluntarily stepped down from the bench, in what he said was a temporary move, when he was indicted July 25.

Justice Chuck McRae cast the dissenting vote, saying the court lacks the authority to grant a formal leave of absence.

The vote came two days after the state’s judicial watchdog agency filed a request that Mr. Diaz be suspended with pay until charges against him are resolved.

MONTANA

Firefighters halt wildfire’s advance

WEST GLACIER — Firefighters have won the battle to stop a wildfire’s advance on this gateway town to Glacier National Park, officials said during the weekend.

The Flathead County sheriff’s office announced Saturday that it is lifting the evacuation order for West Glacier and two other residential areas outside the park.

OHIO

Small-plane crash kills pilot, boy

GALION — A plane clipped treetops and crashed Saturday in a field near an airport, killing the pilot and a young boy, and injuring the other two passengers, the State Highway Patrol said.

Investigators say they believe the Seneca Piper 2 twin-engine aircraft was trying to land at Galion airport when it crashed about 4 p.m., said Sgt. Rick Zwayer, a patrol spokesman.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Liddy attending motorcycle rally

STURGIS — Talk-radio host G. Gordon Liddy has set up shop here for the town’s motorcycle rally.

Mr. Liddy, 72, rode his 2003 Harley-Davidson 1,846 miles from Washington to Sturgis, arriving Thursday night. He planned to take part in book and calendar signings, a motorcycle ride from Mount Rushmore to the Buffalo Chip Campground and to broadcast his daily radio show.

In the nearby gambling town of Deadwood, the mayor designated today G. Gordon Liddy Day.

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